"Forty Years & More"

On Friday, March 29th, 2019, speakers, scholars, students and artists from across this country and several other countries convened at the Seven Hills Conference Center at San Francisco State University for the "Forty Years & More" conference on Iranian Diaspora Studies. The three-day, sold-out event marked the anniversary of the 1979 revolution by emphasizing forty years of diaspora in all of its complexity. Panels and speakers shared exciting new research on diaspora communities, and the conference showcased literature, art, film and media as well as celebrated with music, food and fashion.

Conference Panel
Research on Iranian Diaspora Communities Panel II (photo_ Behnaz Khaleghi)
Audience members listening to keynote address.(photo_ Baharak Khaleghi)
Fashion performance participants. (photo_ Baharak Khaleghi)
Persis Karim listening to keynote address. (photo_ Behnaz Khaleghi)
Panel discussion
Conference reception at Minnesota Street Project (photo_ Behnaz Khaleghi)
CIDS staff listening to keynote address (photo_ Behnaz Khaleghi)
Conference audience members

Conference speakers include Dr. Neda MaghboulehDr. Amy MalekDr. Beeta Baghoolizadeh, and many others.  

Join Us March 28-30, 2019 in San Francisco for "Forty Years & More: International Conference on Iranian Diaspora Studies" for Keynotes, Panel Discussions, and two major exhibitions of Iranian Diaspora Art. 

The conference will mark the anniversary of the 1979 Iranian Revolution by understanding the ways that Iranians as exiles, immigrants, and as second and third generation hyphenated citizens of their respective nations, have met with both challenges and opportunities of diaspora experience. Conference presentations in the arts, humanities, and social sciences will present new scholarship and research about the Iranian diaspora from a variety of perspectives and national contexts. 

Download Promotional Flier (PDF)

Conference at a Glance

WHEN: March 28-30, 2019

WHERE: Seven Hills Conference Center at San Francisco State University

State Drive off Lake Merced Blvd. Download Map (PDF)


  • March 29-30 – Keynotes, panel discussions, and other sessions




Admission to all sessions at Seven Hills Conference Center, March 29-30, 2019

2 continental breakfasts, 2 lunches, coffee breaks

  • $75 General, Full Conference (plus $4 registration fee)
  • $30 Student, Full Conference (plus $2 registration fee)


Admission to all sessions at Seven Hills Conference Center, March 29 or 30, 2019. Please select day upon registration.

1 continental breakfast, 1 lunch, coffee breaks

  • $40 General, 1 Day Conference, either 3/29 or 3/30 (plus $2 registration fee)
  • $18 Student, 1 Day Conference either 3/29 or 3/30 (plus $2 registration fee)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

6 – 8 p.m. Conference Opening Event: Part and Parcel” Art Exhibition

San Francisco Art Commission Gallery

401 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 126 (War Memorial Veterans Building) 

San Francisco, CA 94102

Artists: Tannaz Farsi, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Sahar Khoury and Minoosh Zomorodinia 

This exhibit runs January 25 – March 30, 2019

Gallery Hours: Tues-Sat 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Presented by the San Francisco Arts Commission and Curated by Taraneh Hemami


Friday, March 29, 2019

Seven Hills Conference Center, SF State 

State Dr, off Lake Merced Ave

San Francisco, CA 94132

8 - 9 a.m. – Registration and Coffee/Continental Breakfast

9 - 9:20 a.m. – Welcome

  • Dr. Persis Karim, Director, Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, San Francisco State University
  • Dr. Leslie Wong, President, San Francisco State University
  • Troi Carleton, Associate Dean, College of Liberal & Creative Arts, San Francisco State University

9:25 - 9:45 a.m. – Keynote Presentation – “Mobile Subjects, Multiple Fields: Iranian Diaspora Studies as Transnational Inquiry”

  • Dr. Amy Malek, International Studies, College of Charleston

9:50 - 11 a.m. – “Research on Iranian Diaspora Communities I”

  • “Iranian Migrants in French Society—The Second Generations’ Dilemma,” Yuko Suzuki, Mondes Iranien et Indien en France, Paris, France
  • “From Tehran to Seoul to Los Angeles: The Iranian Diaspora and Transnational Circuits of Change,” Dr. Michael Jin, University of Illinois, Chicago
  •  “Seeking Home: The Iranian Queer Community of Toronto and Public Space,” Paniz Moayeri, University of Waterloo, Canada
  •  “Agency and Im/Mobility Among Iranian Americans in Michigan,” Dr. Camron Michael Amin, University of Michigan-Dearborn
  • “Iranian Translocalities and the Diaspora Imperative to Belong” Dr. Janet Bauer, Trinity College, Connecticut
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Narges Bajoghli, Johns Hopkins University

11 – 11:15 a.m. – Break

11:15-11:35 a.m. – Keynote Presentation – “Forty Years and More at the Limits of Whiteness”

  • Dr. Neda Maghbouleh, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada

11:35 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. – “Research on Iranian Diaspora Communities II”

  • “Chanting the Shores, Mooring in the City: Iranian Cultural Expressions in Dubai,” Dr. Amin Moghadam, Princeton University
  • “A Historical and Statistical Analysis of Iranian Immigration and the Iranian Ethnic Community in Canada,” Dr. Amir Mirfakhraie, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, British Columbia
  • “Historicizing European Immigration: Conflict and Cohesion within Hamburg-Based Iranian Merchant Families" Dr. Sonja Moghaddari, Max Planck Institute, Germany
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Camron Michael Amin, University of Michigan-Dearborn

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. – Lunch – Panel: “Advocacy, Social Justice, and Solidarity-Building in the Iranian Diaspora Community”

  • Raha Jorjani, Director, Immigration Representation Project, Alameda County
  • Dr. Niaz Kasravi, Director/Founder, Avalan Institute
  • Mana Kharrazi, Executive Director, Iranian Alliances Across Borders
  • MODERATOR/PANELIST: Elica Vafaie, Asian Americans Advancing Justice

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. – “Feminism, Gender, and Transformation of Iranian Women “

  • “Modernist Trends Among Iranians and Iranian Americans: Women’s Transnational Stories of Transformation,” Dr. Mary Elaine Hegland, Santa Clara University
  • “Transcending Boundaries in Iranian Transnational Marriages,” Dr. Ashraf Zahedi, Independent Researcher
  • “Iranian Diasporic Feminism and Politics of Imaginary Space,” Yalda Hamidi, Stonybrook University
  • “Queer Iranian-American Women in the Diaspora: Transnational Narratives of Agency and Resistance,” Dr. Shadee Abdi, Arizona State University
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Nima Naghibi, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. – “Literature and Performance”

  • “Unmooring Iranian Diaspora Literature: The Post-National Poetry of Mimi Khalvati and Roger Sedarat,” Holly Fathi, Oxford University
  • “More than Meets the Eye: Multiple and Diverse Points of View in Iranian Diasporic Literature,” Leila Zonouzi, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • “On the Afterlife of Loss in Sahar Delijani's Children of the Jacaranda Tree and Solmaz Sharif's Look ,” Dr. Allia Ida Griffin, Santa Clara University
  • “Objects of Difference: Diasporic Bodies, Translocal Affects, and the Primacy of Passage over Positionality,” Sareh Z. Afshar, New York University
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Amy Motlagh, University of California, Davis

3:30 - 3:45 p.m. – Break

3:45 - 4:50 p.m. – “Race and Racialization in the Iranian Diaspora”

  • “Eating the Iranian Other: Liberal Multiculturalism and American Exceptionalism in Mixed Nutz,” Ida Yalzadeh, Brown University
  • “Liberalism and Racialization in the Age of Rising Far-Right Movements: Reflections on the Iranian Diaspora in the US and Germany,” Dr. Sahar Sadeghi, Muhlenberg College & Dr. Yousef Baker, CSU, Long Beach
  • “Race and Anti-Blackness Among Iranian Americans,” Dr. Sahar Razavi, Sacramento State University
  • “Educational Self-Determination in the Iranian Diaspora: Tracing Intergenerational Dialogues on Race, Parenting, and Identity,” Dr. Shirin Vossoughi, Northwestern University
  • “Another Vision: The Iranian Diaspora, Social Justice, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Imagined Communities,” Ana Ghoreishian, University of Arizona
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Niaz Kasravi, Avalan Institute

5 - 6:30 p.m. – Wine and Cheese Reception

  • Special Performance of “Together Tea,” (one-woman play) with Leyla Modirzadeh

Based on the novel by Marjan Kamali, Adapted by Dr. Matthew Spangler, San Jose State University

Evening – Dinner on Your Own


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Seven Hills Conference Center, SF State 

State Dr, off Lake Merced Ave

San Francisco, CA 94132

8 - 9 a.m. – Coffee/Continental Breakfast

9 - 10 a.m. – “Songs of the Second Generation: Iranian Diasporic Literature and Film in the 21st Century”

  • “The Relational Past: Bilingualism in Recent Iranian American Poetry,” Dr. Kamran Javadizadeh, Villanova University
  • “The Green Wave: Iranian Cinema, American Life, and Global Dissent,” Dr. Marie Ostby, Connecticut College
  • “Machines Performing Human Convictions: Film and Bodily Collective Innervation in Film and Other Media,” Dr. Negar Mottahedeh, Duke University
  • “Remembering the Flight: History, Memory and Imagination,” Dr. Jasmin Darznik, California College of the Arts
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine

10:05 - 11:05 a.m. – “Media, Digital Diasporas, and Film

  • “Cyberbodies, Iranian Immigrants, and New Age Healing,” Torang Asadi, Duke University
  • "How Iranian Female Filmmakers Change the Dialogue," Parisa Barani, Film Director
  • "Iranian-American Voices in the US Newsroom," Melissa Etehad, Journalist, Los Angeles Times
  • “Iranians and Iranian Americans in US Popular Entertainment Media,” Dr. Pantea Javidan, Stanford University
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Niki Akhavan, Catholic University of America, Washington DC

11:05 – 11:15 a.m. – Break

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. – “Music in the Diaspora Context

  • “Composing Persian Music in the Diaspora: Music, Identity, Authenticity, and Universals,” Mehdi Rezania, University of Alberta
  • “Joy Against the Odds: Diasporic Music Videos in 1980s Iran,” Dr. Nahid Siamdoust, Yale University
  • “Havaaye Diyaaro Daaram: Diasporic Sounds and the Rise of Tehrangeles Pop,” Arash Saedinia, Independent Researcher
  • “Requiems for the Motherland: Nostalgia, Homeland Longing and Belonging in Exilic Persian Popular Music,” Shabnam Goli, University of Florida
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Babak Elahi, Rochester Institute of Technology

12:15 - 1:05 p.m. – Lunch Film Screening, We Are Here: Iranian Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area (excerpt)

  • Soumyaa Behrens, Director, Documentary Film Institute, SF State University & Dr. Persis Karim, SF State University
  • Award of Student Prizes for Research and Creative Projects in Iranian Diaspora STudies, Dr. Persis Karim, SF State University

 1:10 - 2:10 p.m.– “Contemporary Practices: Visual Artists of the Iranian Diaspora”

  • Ala Ebtekar, Artist; Stanford University
  • Tannaz Farsi, Artist; University of Oregon
  • Taraneh Hemami, Artist; California College of the Arts
  • Gelare Khoshgozaran, Artist, contemptorary.org
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Shiva Balaghi, The American University in Cairo

2:15 - 3:15 p.m. – “Children of Revolutionaries: The Afterlives of the Iranian Left”

  • Dr. Arash Davari, Whitman College
  • Nina Farnia, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Golnar Nikpour, Dartmouth College
  • Dr. Roozbeh Shirazi, University of Minnesota
  • MODERATOR/PANELIST: Dr. Manijeh Nasrabadi, Barnard College

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. – Break

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. – “Diaspora Filmmaking in a Global Context”

  • Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz, Muhlenberg College
  • Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, University of Iowa
  • Mohammad Gorjestani, Writer and Director
  • Marjaneh Moghimi, Founder/Director, Butimar Productions
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Britta Sjogren, School of Cinema, SF State

4:30 - 4:50 p.m.  Keynote Presentation – “Locating Ajamistan: Moving Across Borders in the Digital Humanities”

  • Dr. Beeta Baghoolizadeh, History and Africana Studies, Bucknell University

4:50 - 5:30 p.m. – “Iranian Diaspora Studies in an Urgent Time”

  • Dr. Narges Bajoghli, Johns Hopkins University
  • Dr. Babak Elahi, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Dr. Nima Naghibi, Ryerson University
  • Dr. Amy Motlagh, University of California, Davis
  • Dr. Nasrin Rahimieh, University of California, Irvine
  • MODERATOR: Dr. Persis Karim, SF State

6 - 9 p.m. – Conference Closing Event: Reception for "Once at Present" Art Exhibit

Fashion Performance by Hushidar Mortezaie and Musical Performance by Mohsen Namjoo

Minnesota Street Project Art Gallery
1275 Minnesota St

San Francisco, CA 94107

This exhibit runs March 29 – April 20, 2019

Curated by Taraneh Hemami and Kevin B. Chen

Forty Years and More: International Conference on Iranian Diaspora Studies in March 2019 will coincide with two art exhibits in San Francisco featuring artists of the Iranian diaspora. Please mark your calendars to explore these unique art exhibitions. Follow the Facebook Page to learn more about events related to the exhibitions and artists. 

Part and Parcel - Contemporary Art of the Iranian Diaspora

Presented by the San Francisco Art Commission, co-curated by Taraneh Hemami.

January 25 - March 30, 2019

Featuring work by Tannaz Farsi, Sahar Khoury, Gelare Khosgozaran, Minoosh Zomorodina

401 Van Ness Ave, Ste 126, San Francisco. Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11-6 p.m.

Download Part and Parcel Flier (PDF)


Once at Present - Contemporary Art of the Iranian Diaspora

Curated by Kevin B. Chen and Taraneh Hemami, Minnesota Street Project

March 29 - April 20, 2019

Featuring work by Shiva Ahmadi, Sholeh Asgary, Shaghayegh Cyrous, Ala Ebtekar, Mitra Fabian, Anahita Hekmat, Kaveh Irani, Pantea Karimi, Shirin Khalatbari, Behnaz Khaleghi, Sanaz Mazinani, Nasim Moghadam, Golbanou Moghaddas, Azin Seraj, Keyvan Shovir, Cyrus Yoshi Tabar, Taravat Talepasand, Shirin Towfiq and Shadi Yousefian.

1275 Minnesota St, San Francisco 

Download Once at Present Flier (PDF)

Learn more about visual artists and curators, Kevin B. Chen and Taraneh Hemami.


Part & Parcel Reception: Thursday, March 28th | 6-8 p.m.

San Francisco Art Commission, Veterans Building 401 Van Ness Ave, Ste. 126, San Francisco

No Ticket Required

Once At Present Reception: Saturday, March 30th | 6-9 p.m. 
Performance by Hushidar Mortezaie and music performance by Mohsen Namjoo and Yahya Alkhansa

Minnesota Street Project, 1275 Minnesota St, San Francisco 

RSVP for Reception

No Ticket Required

"Forty Years & More" Conference a Huge Success

Among the many conversations that were overheard during the conference, there were several words that were repeatedly uttered to describe the gathering: "historic," "groundbreaking," and "inclusive." The conference brought together scholars, artists and thought leaders from 45 universities, and from seven different countries, many of whom had heard of, or read each other's work, but never met before. The conference generated many exciting and novel conversations about the arts and humanities and the need to focus on the unique experiences of the diaspora to generate new research that highlights the present and future — as opposed to the past. Panelists called for the need to engage both Iran and the Iranian diaspora to enrich our understanding of the ways that Iranian immigrants and second and third generation hyphenated Iranians are facing challenges, innovating their culture(s), and offering alternative views to current global crises around a number of issues. Among the highlights of the conference were three dynamic keynote speakers: Dr. Amy Malek speaking on "Iranian Diaspora Studies as Transnational Inquiry," Dr. Neda Maghbouleh, speaking about her own personal story and her journey as a second-generation Iranian American and to writing, The Limits of Whiteness: Iranian Americans and the Everyday Politics of Race, as well as Dr. Beeta Baghoolizadeh, who shared the power of global archive for Persianate culture and history. Among the other dynamic panels were: a panel of social justice advocates including Elica Vafaie, Raha Jorjani, Niaz Kasravi, and Mana Kharrazi, responding to increasing hatred and violence toward immigrants, and specifically, challenges to the Muslim Ban, as well as the growing racialization of Muslim and Middle Eastern people; a panel of practicing Iranian diaspora artists that included Taraneh Hemami, Gelare Khoshgozaran, Ala Ebtekar, and Tannaz Farsi, moderated by Dr. Shiva Balaghi; and a dynamic panel on "Race and Racialization in the Iranian Diaspora." The entire two days of the conference was rich with discussion, dynamic new topics on music, film, and literature, as well as new research on Iranian diaspora communities worldwide.

For more on the conference, visit the College of Liberal & Creative Arts new article.


Forty Years and More conference logo
Passport Art Exhibit

"Once at Present" Art Exhibit and Events

Bay Area artist Taraneh Hemami is widely known for leading the charge for community-building and the arts of the Iranian diaspora. For the conference, the Center was fortunate to sponsor the curatorial genius of Hemami and SF State lecturer, Kevin B. Chen, who assembled an all-star cast of 19 Bay Area Iranian diaspora artists whose work was part of the show, "Once at Present" at the Minnesota Street Gallery. "Once at Present," which will be on display until April 20th, features the work of internationally recognized artists Ala Ebtekar, Shiva Ahmadi, Sanaz Mazinani, Pantea Karimi as well as 14 other established and upcoming artists from the San Francisco Bay Area such as Shirin Khalatabari, Shirin Towfiq and Kayvan Shovir. These artists' installations feature print and photography, video, soundscapes and sculptures using everything from gutter pipes to skateboards to pressure cookers and printed fabric. The exhibit has also featured a number of events including a panel discussion last weekend with Shiva Ahmadi, Sanaz Mazinani, Taravat Talepasand and visiting artist Abbas Akhavan (from Canada), moderated by Asian Art Museum curator, Marc Mayer. The Center will host a final performance with Sholeh Asgary and Cyrus Yoshi Tabar next Saturday, April 20th, from 4-6 p.m. for the show's closing.

For more information, go to our Facebook page for "Once at Present".

A Manifesto for Iranian Diaspora Studies?

What makes a body of scholarship worthy of study? What makes it a sub-field in a larger category of disciplines such as history, sociology, anthropology? For many who study the Iranian diaspora, no one discipline or area of study (Middle East Studies, American Studies, Humanities) is large enough or adequate enough to encompass the breadth and range of topics that are now part of Iranian diaspora studies. It is beyond a single national area or field of study and the "Forty Years & More" conference was testament to this idea. Iranian diaspora studies emerges from both the tragic consequences of a history that has been minimized, erased, misrepresented, or ignored from several national histories, including Iran and the US, but also engages the idea that immigration does not stop at the single historical juncture when people immigrate and take up residence in another country. Dr. Michael Jin's (University of Illinois) playful and poetic presentation, "From Tehran to Seoul to Los Angeles: The Iranian Diaspora and Transnational Circuits of Change" showed just how fluidly and innovatively culture travels the globe and how communities influence each other. Similarly, Arash Saedinia's "Havaaye Diyaaro Daaram: Diasporic Sounds and the Rise of Tehrangeles Pop," a powerful tribute to the ways that Iranian music in the diaspora circulates in music cultures of Los Angeles and finds its traces in contemporary rap music, show the borderless nature of culture and the important reasons for studying it in a music context. Iranian diaspora studies is neither separate from nor exactly like Iranian Studies — it builds on and projects itself upon the idea that no culture or history is static, and that to understand it, we must have innovative and open boundaries within our disciplines. We hope that with this inaugural conference of Iranian diaspora studies at SF State, we can continue to envision a field of study that interacts with, draws upon, and generates exchanges with a variety of fields, as well as opens itself to collaboration with scholars, disciplines and other diaspora communities. We welcome your ideas about what might constitute the foundations and criteria for this field and hope to engage scholars with this, outside those who were at the conference.


Director's Message and Thanks

A year and a half ago, when I began as the inaugural director of the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, I dreamed of a conference that would mark the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution, but also signal the emergence of the field of Iranian diaspora studies, which I had seen grow tremendously over the past decade and a half. From my vantage point, it was time to share with each other the vast and rich research and the many approaches that were being taken to understand what had become of Iranians in the aftermath of one of the largest transnational migrations of the 20th century. The conference was everything I dreamed of and much more! Thank you to all of you who traveled from near and far to be with us during two days of panels, presentations, and conversations and for your thoughtful and timely presentations. Thank you to program assistant, Kathy Bruin for her tireless and precise planning to make everything go so smoothly. Thank you to Center assistant, Nick Nguyen for picking up all the pieces and helping to make so many aspects of the conference and the closing reception run so well. Thank you to the many volunteers who helped us with book and t-shirt sales, registration, and the receptions. We also want to thank Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, District 11 of San Francisco for his proclamation of March as "Iranian Diaspora Month" read by aide, Monica Chinchilla at the opening of our conference at the "Part and Parcel" art exhibit at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery. We hope to collaborate with some of you on further events, including the next conference, which, we hope will take place within five years at a yet-to-be determined location. We hope you'll continue to involve yourself in this field and share your ideas and vision with the Center!


Persis Karin holds Iranian Diaspora Month proclamation

Conference YouTube

Who Are You? #SoAreWe

As we mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Iranian revolution, Who are you? #SoAreWe explores underrepresented narratives about identity, culture, and the challenges Iranian immigrants have faced, while also celebrating stories of renewal and resilience of those living in the diaspora.

"Forty Stories," the centerpiece of the campaign, is a series of interviews that weave together a rich tapestry of stories, reflections, and commentaries that inspire deeper connections, compassion and understanding of diaspora populations the world over.


In the forty years since the 1979 revolution, Iranian diaspora communities around the world have inspired countless examples of courage and creativity in the face of difficulty. They have also drawn on a spirit of renewal and reinvention in rooting themselves in new locations. Watch some of these poignant and inspiring accounts here.

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